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Chiefs topple Stormers in Super Rugby, champs NSW lose

March 14, 2015

The Chiefs ended the Stormers’ winning run in Super Rugby on Saturday as their deadly backline attacking overcame the South African team’s scrum dominance.

The two-time champion Chiefs of New Zealand recovered from an early try to Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk to score three of their own in a 28-19 win away at Newlands.

Flyhalf Aaron Cruden, wing James Lowe and flanker Sam Cane went over, lifting the Hamilton-based Chiefs from 10-3 and 16-13 down to a comfortable and significant win in Cape Town. The Stormers’ first loss of the season left just the Wellington-based Hurricanes as the only unbeaten team after five rounds.

However, ACT Brumbies now lead the standings in place of the Stormers after a five-try, 29-0 rout of the Queensland Reds in their Australian derby. ACT has played one game more than the Hurricanes.

Also Saturday, All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter returned from a monthlong injury layoff to kick four conversions and two penalties in the Crusaders’ 34-6 win over South Africa’s Lions. Defending champion New South Wales Waratahs lost to New Zealand’s Highlanders 26-19.

In the final game of the round, the Sharks had too much for the Cheetahs in an all-South African meeting, also scoring five tries in a 27-10 win, with Springboks flanker Marcell Coetzee rumbling over for two of those tries.

For the Stormers, Van Wyk sliced through in the first half, but the home team couldn’t convert its powerful scrum into lasting dominance on the scoreboard against the clever Chiefs. All Black Cruden slipped in for a first-half try and added 13 points with the boot as the Chiefs were far sharper after the early Stormers surge.

Carter had been sidelined since the opening round of the season when he suffered a leg injury in the Christchurch-based Crusaders’ 20-10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels. Playing at center against the Lions, he converted tries by scrumhalf Andy Ellis, replacement Kieron Fonotia and returning All Blacks backrower Kieran Read, and a penalty try awarded for a scrum infringement in the 55th minute.

The slow-starting Crusaders, record seven-time Super Rugby winners, moved up to ninth and within sight of the playoffs with just their second win this season.

The Dunedin-based Highlanders scored three tries in an eight-minute period on either side of halftime to beat last year’s winner New South Wales of Australia.

Winger Waisake Naholo outflanked the defense in the 38th minute to give the Highlanders a 14-12 halftime lead after trailing for much of the first half. Fullback Ben Smith and winger Patrick Osborne crossed in the third and sixth minutes of the second half to extend the lead, and the Highlanders held on for victory.

Three of ACT’s five tries against a struggling Queensland came from front-row forwards, with hooker Stephen Moore scoring one and prop Ben Alexander two to underline their dominance in the pack. No. 8 Ita Vaea and center Christian Lealiifano also got in on the act against an injury-hit Queensland, which had flanker Liam Gill yellow-carded early in the second half and was missing a string of regulars.

ACT leads the Super Rugby table by two points from the Hurricanes. The Stormers are a further two points back.

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Crusaders 34 (Andy Ellis, Kieron Fonotia, Kieran Read tries; penalty try; Dan Carter 4 conversions, 2 penalties), Lions 6 (Elton Jantjies 2 penalties). HT: 13-3.

Highlanders 26 (Tom Franklin, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith, Patrick Osborne tries; Lima Sopoaga 3 conversions), New South Wales Waratahs 19 (Nick Phipps, Matt Carraro, Stephen Hoiles tries; Bernard Foley 2 conversions). HT: 14-12.

ACT 29 (Ben Alexander 2, Stephen Moore, Ita Vaea, Christian Lealiifano tries; Lealiifano 2 conversions), Queensland 0. HT: 10-0.

Chiefs 28 (Aaron Cruden, James Lowe, Sam Cane tries; Cruden 2 conversions, 3 penalties), Stormers 19 (Kobus van Wyk try; Kurt Coleman conversion, 3 penalties, Demetri Catrakilis penalty). HT: 13-16.

Sharks 27 (Marcell Coetzee 2, Francois Steyn, Jack Wilson tries; Pat Lambie 2 conversions, penalty), Cheetahs 10 (Francois Venter try; Francois Brummer conversion, Willie du Plessis penalty). HT: 22-3.

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